Disclaimer: Right, we’ve been in the wilderness for a while now, so no internet (or even phone). So will do a few blog post in quick succession, but you’ll have to wait for photos a few days longer as I’ve been too busy having fun to even sort through them!

Well, as it turns out, we didn’t get too cold that night, in fact, it was just a bit too warm even! As we opened the door of the RV, there were icicles hanging from it, but there wasn’t a huge new blanket of snow, so it seemed things didn‘t get too bad. Niels went to check at the campground information, find out if any roads would still be closed so we could plan our accordingly. “Do you want to the good news or the bad news? Well, the good news is that you came to check…” said the lovely at the campground. Turns out, the Madison area was pretty much the only area that was not adversely affected by the weather. The options were: you could go out of Yellowstone via the West Entrance, or you could take the road to the Old Faithful area. Everything else, including all the other entrances, was closed off! Geyser-gazing it would be then!
Thermal undies and big winter coats on, it wouldn’t really get any warmer than freezing. We saw plenty of bison again, this time they were really close to the road, well, they were crossing the road actually. First time ever we got stuck in a bit of traffic jam due to bison, how novel! The other thing that struck me as rather odd, was the fact that there were so many people out fishing out in the river (not by the river, in the river). Nutcases…
Anyway, geyser country, how freaking awesome was that!!! You see these plumes of smoke from a distance, looking like the forest is on fire. Then you get up close and personal and it feels like you are on a different planet, it all looks so alien. Oh, and it stinks, literally, sulphuric gas doesn’t exactly smell of roses. But you don’t care, this is just way too cool.
And then we ventured into the back country for a bit of a hike, up to Mystic Falls (unfortunately not the Mystic Falls with the yummy vampire as I soon found out). No, this was the Mystic Falls with the “Bear Country” warning. Just a week or so before we arrived in Yellowstone 2 people were killed by bears, so we were told be careful by every ranger we came across. We weren’t carrying any bear spray, but I did make sure I was singing loud enough to scare any bear away… (they really do tell you to sing, or make loud noises). The landscape from the geyser and hot spring area changes dramatically fast into tall pine woods, and then you are truly walking in a winter wonderland. Beautiful beyond words.
We didn’t spend the next 2 nights in Bertie, I had booked ourselves 2 nights in the Old Faithful Inn. This was the one place I really REALLY wanted to spend some time, so it was the first thing I booked once I knew the approximate route. The Old Faithful Inn is a gorgeous building, built over 100 years ago. It took them only 1 year to build it, which is quite astonishing and quite the engineering feat! One of the reasons I really wanted to stay here was because my favourite hotel in Disney World, The Wilderness Lodge, was based on it, so it was cool to stay in the original. We stayed in one of the old house rooms, which meant shared bathrooms and really bad sound insulation (the whole building is made out of wood), but it was soooo cool! Across from our room were 2 little rooms with gorgeous cast iron bath tubs (luckily not a lot of people know about these, they don’t actually tell you, they just tell you about the showers). Anyway, after our hike to Mystic Falls, those bath tubs looked more than inviting. And oh my goodness, heaven can come in the shape of a bath tub! I savoured every minute of it and didn’t want to come out…

I haven’t written the next part of our Yellowstone adventure yet (and trust me, it has been an adventure at times… altitude sickness is not nice…). I hope to do this very soon and upload it along with photos soon.

Disclaimer: Right, we’ve been in the wilderness for a while now, so no internet (or even phone). So will do a few blog post in quick succession, but you’ll have to wait for photos a few days longer as I’ve been too busy having fun to even sort through them!

We didn’t managed to make a campfire on our first night at the Signal Mountain campground, we tried but then it started raining, and it didn’t stop for most of the following 36 hours. So when we woke up the next morning, we decided to take it easy that day and not go on a big hike. A little walk through the campground was already very lovely, seeing squirrels and chipmunks and deer just a few feet from us. Grand Teton National Park has a rather excellent visitor centre. Among many other things, we now know where the park got its name from, and it is indeed a little naughty just as we always thought when we said the name. Some -apparently depraved- French explorers came up with the name which basically translates as the Big Boobs. Grand Teton looks quite a bit like the Alps, but with bears, not that we came across any. Despite the weather, which cleared up for a little time in the afternoon, we did have an excellent day yet again. We retired for the night with a forecast just below freezing and the ominous news that the first snow storm of the season was on its way to the area.
Luckily, that snow storm hadn’t quite arrived when we got back on the road the next day on our way to Yellowstone National Park. “Quite” being the operative word in that sentence. It didn’t take long for the snowflakes to fall from the skies and by the time we arrived at the South Entrance of Yellowstone Park around 10am, you could barely see anything but the white stuff. We drove on, not seeing anything but the road in front of us and every once in a while I could catch a glimpse of the cliff drop right next to the road. It was a somewhat stressful drive up to the visitor centre at Old Faithful. When we arrived there, the snow had turned into miserable rain. But we had just arrived in time to see Old Faithful erupt, even the rain couldn’t stop my excitement at seeing the water jet 130ft into the air. It was awesome! Then, it was onwards to our campsite for the night, Madison campground. On the way there, we saw some bison. It was awesome! At the campground we found out that the South Entrance had closed due to the weather only an hour or so after we went through it. Well, that was lucky, a detour to another entrance could have taken us at least a half day’s drive. In the evening, just before dusk, we decided to venture into the town of West Yellowstone in Montana (that way, we got to tick another state of the list). On the way there, we saw some elk. It was awesome! Now for the town of West Yellowstone, there isn’t really much to it to be honest, we did have dinner in a local restaurant which felt like we stepped into a time warp. We had to keep a close eye on the weather though, as we had left the campground, the snow started coming down again and we didn’t want to be stuck out in the town in case the West Entrance would close too. Back at our site, we prepared for what would be our coldest night yet, just below freezing. A duvet, some super warm sleeping bags, a thermal nightie and bedsocks would have to the trick (along with leaving the thermostat on so the water lines wouldn’t freeze in the RV)…

Disclaimer: Right, we’ve been in the wilderness for a while now, so no internet (or even phone). So will do a few blog post in quick succession, but you’ll have to wait for photos a few days longer as I’ve been too busy having fun to even sort through them!

Saturday morning we woke up in what felt like a film set. Looking around at the Kodachrome Basin, you felt that at any moment a native American or cowboy on horseback would show up at the top of the cliffs and would soon be followed by a whole cavalry surrounding you completely. I wished we could have stayed an extra night, but the road was beckoning.
We packed up the RV and set off on Scenic Route 12. Scenic was indeed the right word for the route, we stopped many times along the way to enjoy the view, and around every bend the view would change. From red rock deserts to lush green mountain sides. Absolutely gorgeous drive!
We stopped for the night in a little town called Torrey and bought some provisions at the local “general store”, where we came across some rather interesting characters. In the evening, we enjoyed another camp fire with a gorgeous view and cooked some steak over the fire. It was yet another perfect evening (if it hadn’t been for Niels burning is fingers whilst moving a rock in the fire).
On Sunday we were going to Salt Lake City, but first we had to pay a visit to the Capitol Reef National Park. Again, we were struck by amazing scenery, Utah is just so spoiled. And we also had some fun on a pick your own fruit site.
So off we went on the long drive to Salt Lake City. Whenever we came across people before who asked us about our trip, they would almost inevitable warn us about Salt Lake City “that’s the city of the Mormons, you know”. We felt like saying “don’t worry, it’s not contagious”. Yet, they looked even more worried when we said we would be staying with friends (and yes, the friends are Mormons). Our friends offered us an RV hook up, we didn’t want to pass up on the opportunity to stay with real people for a change and it was a really lovely stay, meeting Mike and his family. Mike even lent us one of his company cars the following morning for us to explore the area more easily than with the RV. So we drove out 2 hours west to the Salt Flats, where they do all the speed trials. When we got there, they were actually setting up for some speed trials later that week, which meant that you weren’t allowed to drive on the flats anymore. But as we had come such a long way, they did give us permission to go on for a little bit. Niels, for some reason which totally escapes me, actually declined their offer! Well, no way Jose, I was so going to drive on there! So I got behind the wheel of the little Chevrolet Aveo and drove onto the flats, and despite the fact that I was only allowed to go up to 40 miles an hour, I had a blast!
Back in Salt Lake City, we visited the one place in the city that I wanted to visit since I started planning this trip: Bruges Waffles and Frites. As it is owned by 2 Belgian brothers from Bruges, we got some proper Belgian frites, which were delicious and well worth the visit. And we got a nice waffle with ice cream and speculoos as dessert too. 2 happy bunnies!
And we couldn’t miss out on seeing the Temple either. We had seen this stunning building (which took 40 years to build, taking granite rocks out of the surrounding mountains) in so many wedding films, so we wanted to see it in real life. And it is pretty amazing, but somehow, it looks even better in those wedding films. And I got a picture of the door knobs…
In the evening, we were the guest speakers at the Utah Professional Videographer’s Association. Always nice to meet up with some fellow filmmakers and we had real good time, and from what we gather, they were quite happy with our talk too.
After our day in Salt Lake City, it was time to set off once more. We travelled via Idaho into Wyoming, and are now staying at a campground in Grand Teton National Park. I hope we won’t get too cold tonight…

Early rise, busy schedule, off to Bryce Canyon, via a rather scenic route that would take us through a tunnel that was only 13.1ft high (Bertie is 13ft). Adventure time!!!

We realised the previous day that we were taking too many photographs, so today, we decided to try to restrict ourselves and only take photographs of spectacular scenery. Let’s just say that Bryce Canyon is incredibly spectacular and we ended up taking even more photographs than the day before. We hiked down into the canyon right by some very amazing towering hoodoos (I think that’s what they were called). Now going down, that’s the easy bit, but what goes down, must also come up… As we were hiking down the path, others were coming up and our fate was telling. We saw a couple with a 3 year old, mum was carrying the kid who was visibly bored and kept asking questions. The conversation we picked up went as follows:
“Mummy can’t talk right now”, “Why can’t you talk right now?”, “Because I’m carrying you”, “Why can’t you talk while you are carrying me?”. A look of sheer desperation was on her face as she looked up and realised she was far from the top.

After our visit to Bryce Canyon, we drove on to Kodachrome State Park, where we parked Bertie for the night. We had the best spot on the site, with a large private picnic area just over a little bridge and with a rather interesting view… Our entertainment for the evening was $5 worth of firewood and the Universe. Niels made a great campfire, we roasted our hot dogs and marshmallows over it and just stared at the sky for hours and didn’t get bored for a single minute. We even had a little drinking game going, take a shot of the bottle of Chateau Migraine every time you saw a shooting star. It was perfection.

After spending a lovely evening with our friends Celia and John at their stately home near Las Vegas, we picked up our RV. First thoughts: thank goodness it’s not that massive one we first saw! No, ours was one of the smallest on the lot, or cutest as the lady from the rental place called it. We received an orientation on how to work everything, there is quite a lot to remember and we drove of the lot. The first few minutes were rather scary, that thing makes a lot of noise and with every little noise it made, we kept wondering “what’s that? Is that normal?”. We’ve named our little RV Bertie, seemed to suit it quite well. It’s actually a rather sweet little RV, just the perfect size for us. And it does 0 to 60 in 3 minutes flat!

Dinner with Celia & John

Ready to go!

A quick stop back at Celia’s to pick up all our stuff and we were on our way! Zion National Park here we come!
By the time we got finally arrived at Zion, it was nearly 10pm and there was nobody at check in, just a note to say where our site was and to check in the next morning. So in the pitch darkness that you will find in a national park, we tried to find our site. Took a wrong turn and went around the loop once too many, but we found it, now all we had to do was back little Bertie in. Didn’t quite know where we left the flashlight, but the LED lights on my phone are pretty powerful, so I got out and guided Niels into the space. No problem! Phew! Connected the electric and we were ready for our first night in the RV.
The next morning we woke up and finally saw our surrounding area, jaws dropped.
We only had one day in Zion and had to make the most out of it. So off to the visitor centre to find out about the best hikes and onto the shuttle bus. The temperature that day went up to 97F or 37C, ouch! So plenty of water was consumed on our hike, which was rather stunning. We just kept taking pictures and pictures and more pictures. After the rather sweaty hike, we dipped our feet in the ice cold river, I think that was my favourite part of the day. Exhausted, we arrived back to Bertie, made dinner, enjoyed the starry sky and had an early night. So far, we were loving the RV experience.

I’ll blog again when we have a better internet connection, this was just way too slow!

We woke up early this morning, at 4am, ouch! But there was a greater purpose to this madness, we were about to sail into New York, a sight that shouldn’t be missed. Except that when we arrived at our look out point, we were greeted with a fairly dense fog. New York, where the hell are you?!? It wasn’t until we got really close to the Verrazano Narrow’s Bridge that we actually saw it, sailing under it, always looks like the ship is about to lose the top of the funnel. In fact, it’s a bit of an optical illusion, and there’s actually about 4 metres spare (if the tide is right). When building the Queen Mary 2, they actually made sure that she would fit under the bridge. Then about 30 minute later, we’d sail passed the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline should look absolutely wonderful. Well, we nearly missed Lady Liberty, she was hiding, with her head in the clouds. The New York skyline remained even more illusive. Oh well, better luck next time, not that this wasn’t another wonderful experience.

Unfortunately, arriving in New York meant disembarking this beauty. As I mentioned earlier, I could easily get used to living on this ship. But the rest of our adventure awaits. We are now on our way to Las Vegas, flying at an altitude of I don’t know how many thousand feet. I think I could do with a nap now. Tomorrow we pick the RV and head to Zion National Park.

Sunset on our last evening

Under the Verrrazano Narrows Bridge

Lady Liberty with her head in the clouds

Hello New York!

5.30am Tuesday morning, alarm goes off, please can I snooze a little longer? But no, excitement kicks in and an hour later we’ve loaded up the car and we are on our way to Southampton. An uneventful 4 and half hours later we arrive in Southampton and check in at the Ocean Terminal. We won’t have many occasions to actually see the ship, so make the most out seeing her before we board.

I must say, just like last year, the boarding process with Cunard is so smooth and well organised, much better than any other cruise line we’ve ever sailed with before. While we are waiting in the lounge before boarding, we have a good look around and a song pops into our heads “You make me feel so young”… Yes, we still bring down the average age of the passenger manifest quite considerably. 1pm, and we get to board this beauty, it feels like coming home. It all still feels so familiar from our last trip, even down to the fact that we once again, despite our complaint last time, received the daily program in French. For some reason, Cunard thinks Belgian means French. Me thinks a letter explaining the population of Belgium is in order. You’d think that if up to that point all communication has been in English, booked with an American agency, home address being in England, you might get all the information in English, but no. The French theme continued to the dinner table where we found out we were placed at a table with 2 French speaking Belgians and 2 Parisians. Our French isn’t quite good enough to carry a decent conversation and neither is their English or Dutch. Not quite happy with this. So after dinner we request a change of tables. Here endeth our complaints.

The Maitre d’ gives us a table change, says it’s a really nice table and that John Duffy, the hotel manager will be our host the next evening. So now we’re reduced to eating with the staff ;-)

The next evening, the first of 4 formal evenings, we arrive at our new table to be greeted by the lovely Sonja from Austria who is the assistant to the hotel manager, all the places have place names, this is becoming a very formal affair. Our new table mates are all English speaking a very lovely bunch, perfect table mates really. Dining with the hotel manager, who has worked with Cunard for over 30 years, is proving to be very interesting. And a nice little extra perk, which Niels enjoyed very much, the wine is free-flowing. We’ve struck lucky with our new table. Especially when the next evening, again a formal evening, we find our table is being hosted by the Chief Purser and Guest Relations Manager. Again, an absolutely wonderful evening, and the wine, it just kept on coming. Turns out, our table is hosted by senior staff every formal night. How lovely! The Food and Beverage manager joined us yesterday which had all the waiting staff on their tippy toes. Tonight, we’ll be joined by the ship’s Chief Medical Officer.

The first day on board was rather choppy, up and down, up and down, we were trying to avoid a storm to the north west, but were still suffering slightly. Luckily, this is the Queen Mary 2 and if this had been a regular cruise ship rather than on ocean liner, things would have been far more wobbly! Most nights we get an extra hour, slowly adjusting to the time difference, so we won’t have any jetlag arriving in New York on Tuesday (one of the many advantages of taking this method of crossing the Atlantic). But even with the extra hour, we still managed to be way too late for breakfast on the first day! Ouch! Since then, we’ve managed to catch up on the sleep we’ve been missing out on lately.

Everything on board is just so wonderful, from the white gloved service afternoon tea in the ballroom, to a total relaxing time in the spa, and time has passed way too quickly. Hard to believe that we will be in New York in 2 days time already, I could easily spend 5 more weeks on this ship and not feel a need to set foot on land.

9 hours until we set off to Southampton.

And we’re still madly packing and planning and searching for missing items (like a 28mm lens).  Although I’ve been planning this trip for about 18 months now, it turns out, I am so not ready. Well, that is to say, we are kind of ready with the planning but decided to “wing it” for certain parts of the trip. This means that for certain nights we won’t know where we’ll be parking the RV. This is making me a bit nervous though, I’m a mad planner and not knowing what we’ll be doing every minute of every day is giving me the heebie jeebies (and I just remember I still need to book our car for the final part of our trip, jikes!).

Any bets on how much sleep we’re gonna get tonight?

OK, that’s one word three times. (bonus cookie for anyone who gets this little reference).

I love planning vacations, planning this one is just out of this world! So much to do, so much to organise. I’ve got myself a pretty new binder to organise everything properly. I’ve been making list for everything, a list of things we shouldn’t forget to pack, a list of things we still need to buy over here, a list of things to order in the US, a list of things to buy once we have our RV, a list of campsites in stunning location but that we can’t book in advance, … I still need to start on the list of all the activities we can do in all these places we’re visiting. But one thing is for sure, I can’t wait to start this adventure. Everytime I look at something I get even more excited.

For example, do a Google image search for Madison Campground Yellowstone… Now tell me honestly if that didn’t make you smile!

We’ve also arranged to speak at the Utah PVA in Salt Lake City (Professional Videographers Association… for those who are wondering or might confuse it with something else). So we’ll be able to meet up with some of the other weirdos in our profession! There’s also a Belgian Waffle shop in Salt Lake City, which I definitely want to go to!

We’ve also bought ourselves a new though little camera that’s waterproof and schock proof, so we can don’t have to worry all too much. Speaking of cameras. We will be taking our proper cameras too and we’re planning on making little video clips along the way. So if the internet connections in the RV parks along the way is half decent (and I’ve heard it actually often isn’t at all!), we’ll be uploading those along with the photos.

Can you tell I’m excited?!

I’ve booked a bunch of campsites, but won’t be sharing those just yet. Niels likes a few surprises along the way, so we’ll keep these a secret for now. He just gets a bit worried now and again about how cold things might get, and from what I’ve seen, heard and read, things might get really cold and snowy at times. All in the spirit of adventure ;-)

And we’ve got ourselves a little bobblehead mascot for the trip!

“I don’t care if it rains or it’s fine,
Long as I got my plastic Einstein,
Sittin’ on the dashboard of my car,
To travel with him is my proclivity,
He has a theory ’bout relativity,
Cosmic’ly he knows exactly where we are.”

But in the meantime, there’s still loads of planning to do, and more importantly, more work to do too! I shouldn’t get my backlog of work get too high considering we’re away for so long. So back to the grindstone it is!

  • Flights to Las Vegas: booked
  • 2 Nights at the Old Faithful Inn: booked
  • Hiring an RV for 29 days: booked

Yes, you’ve read that correctly, we’re renting an RV! We’ll be doing the Vegas to Vegas part of our trip in an RV, then we rent a car to drive on to LA. At first we had ruled an RV out as too costly, but with a change to the route and schedule, and a few discount codes, the RV option was feasible again. Did my research, got advice from some seasoned RV road trippers and went for it! A bit more adventure, never driven such a big thing (despite us choosing the smallest model available, it’s still about 23ft!) and it will be the closest thing to camping I’ve ever been. And it’s likely to be the closest to camping I’ll ever get considering Niels does not want to spend a night in a tent with me (understandably).

Oh, and then it turns out that no vacation for us would complete without at least a bit of Disney fix, so we’ll be going to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Disneyland California!

Right on with the planning, less than 3 months to go now!

We’re putting together a road trip playlist; we’d love to hear your suggestions on the ultimate road trip music. Email me!

Latest News
  • And already stuck in traffic on the M25 2011-11-02
  • Back on British soil... Laadeedaa 2011-11-02
  • Tonight we fly back to England. This has been one LEG-EN-DARY vacation!!! Could easily do another 6 weeks. 2011-11-01
  • Going to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party at Disneyland California tonight! 2011-10-31
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